What is the best surveillance camera?

IR Security Camera

With so many options on the market, people often wonder what is the best surveillance camera.  The only correct answer is that the best camera really depends on your specific surveillance needs.  There are many things to consider when planning a surveillance system.  It is a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable equipment supplier that will also provide a high level of support before and after your purchase.   A good equipment supplier should be able to help you assess what is needed.  It is also a good idea to make a list and answer some basic questions when deciding which security camera is best for you.

Questions to ask to find the best surveillance camera

  • Do I need indoor or outdoor security cameras?
  • Does the area that I am installing the security camera have any lighting?
  • Do I need the cameras to see in the dark using infrared?
  • How will I mount the cameras?
  • What type of body style will look best for my installation?
  • Does the body color of the camera matter to me?
  • How far away from the area I am monitoring will the camera be mounted?
  • What type of lens will I need?
Outdoor Security Camera

Outdoor Camera

Indoor vs. Outdoor Surveillance Cameras

Outdoor security cameras are enclosed in weatherproof housings.  The weatherproof casing / housings are typically made of metal.  The lenses of outdoor cameras are enclosed behind a glass or plastic cover to protect the lens from outdoor elements.  All of the cabling and and pieces of the camera that can be opened are sealed with rubber grommets and rings.

Dome Security Camera

Indoor Dome

In contrast, many times indoor security cameras are made of plastic or if they are made of metal, the casing is not weatherproof rated.  Because they do not need to be water-tight, the openings are not sealed with rubber like most outdoor cameras.  Dome and bullet style cameras are very popular for both indoor & outdoor applications.  Usually indoor cameras cost a little less than a comparable outdoor model because of the saved expense of not needing the weatherproof casing.

Infrared Surveillance Cameras

Infrared Security Camera

Infrared Security Camera

Infrared surveillance cameras are used in situations where there is very little or no light and you still need to record video.  IR cameras have a light sensor in them so that when the camera senses the light level to be below a certain level, the camera turns to night mode and the infrared illuminators come on.  Infrared cameras at this point turn to black and white even if they record color during the day.  Infrared surveillance cameras come in both indoor and outdoor models.  The main thing to consider when trying to choose the best infrared surveillance camera is how far do you need to see in complete darkness.  IR cameras have a rating that let’s consumers know how far they can see in the dark.  The range is quite broad starting at about 20 feet for entry level infrared cameras and going all the way up to 300 feet for high end commercial grade IR surveillance cameras.

Different Surveillance Camera Body Styles

Bullet Surveillance Camera

Bullet Camera

It is very common for consumers that are not familiar with security cameras to think that the body style of the camera affects the angle of view that it produces.  Because of the round shape of dome cameras, many people thing that a dome camera will give a wide view than a bullet style camera.  This is simply not true.  It is the type of lens that is inside of the camera that determines how wide or narrow the field of view will be.  A done style and bullet style camera, while having a totally different body shape, can have the exact same lens inside of their housing and therefor give the exact same picture angle and quality.

Camera Lens

Camera Lens

Types of Security Camera Lenses

Most consumers need to consider two things when choosing the best security camera lens.

  1. How far from the subject area is the camera going to be mounted?
  2. Do I want to use a fixed or varifocal lens to accomplish the view that I would like to capture?

A varifocal lens can be adjusted to change the field of view to be more narrow or broad, and also more zoomed in or zoomed out.  Varifocal lenses usually have two adjustment controls on them, one to adjust the field of view and one to adjust the focus.  You can see these two adjustment controls in the above lens image.  A fixed lens does not allow the field of view to be adjusted and is typically pre-focused so no adjustments are needed.  It is a good idea to refer to a security camera lens chart to help determine which lens is best for you.

About the Author

Mike Haldas

This article written by Mike Haldas from CCTV Camera Pros. CCTV Camera Pros specializes in home, business, and government surveillance systems. Mike has over 13 years experience in the security and IT industry as hardware and software engineer.  Please call 1-888-849-2288 or visit www.cctvcamerapros.com for additional information on choosing the best surveillance camera for you needs.